Money is running out on a program to provide outreach workers to help with problems around homelessness and addiction on Capitol Hill. A business group is stepping up to foot the bill — for now. (Image: CHS)
Broadway businesses are banding together to keep what they say is a vital service –Outreach workers on the streets of Capitol Hill talking with people suffering a mental health crisis or struggling with homelessness — in place as City Hall funding for the program comes to an end.
But as it finds a new way to pay for the service, the Broadway group may also need to find a new organization to provide the outreach workers.
For the past two years, the Broadway Business Improvement Area has contracted with downtown’s Metropolitan Improvement District to staff a crew of outreach workers who can help handle the day to day crises of homelessness, mental health, and addiction that arise along Broadway. The money to expand the effort from downtown to Capitol Hill came from then-Mayor Ed Murray’s office after some creative budgeting moved existing funding into place to support the outreach workers. The effort followed promises made in the wake of a shooting at Broadway and Pike to bring more services to Pike/Pine to help free up East Precinct officers who found themselves on the front lines of Seattle’s homelessness crisis.
George Piper of Seattle LGBTQ Development spoke Monday in favor of a new Capitol Hill community center — provided the LGBTQ community actually guides its creation
UPDATE: Monday’s City Council budget negotiations didn’t get off to a good start for the future representative of District 3. After a prolonged debate, three proposals from City Council member Kshama Sawant failed to make the agenda, effectively killing or delaying key parts of the progressive action plan she laid out ahead of this year’s budget process.
The City Council rejected Sawant’s amendments for increased spending on homeless services, a study to create a LGBTQ community center on Capitol Hill, and funding for a municipal broadband pilot project.
Debate over Sawant’s “statement of legislative intent” to have the parks department study the creation of a new Capitol Hill LGBTQ center zeroed in on the scope of Seattle’s existing community centers and if the parks department was the best agency to oversee the project. City Council member Tom Rasmussen, the council’s only gay member, lead the objection to Sawant’s proposal, saying community centers were meant to serve all residents.
“The LGBTQ community is well dispersed throughout Seattle,” he said. “To confine these services… to Capitol Hill is very limited.”
City council members approved Rasmussen’s alternative amendment (PDF), which directs the parks department to study how it can better serve residents at all of its community centers with special focus on Capitol Hill’s Miller Community Center. Rasmussen said he supported the idea of a LGBTQ “impact hub” on Capitol Hill, but urged caution given past LGBTQ centers that shuttered because of dwindling public support. “It has to grow organically from the community and really have a solid business plan,” he said.
Supporters of municipal broadband were also dealt a blow after council members rejected Sawant’s $4.8 million budget amendment for a municipal broadband pilot project. Saying hatred against Comcast was the “great uniter” in Seattle, Sawant proposed funding the amendment though a tax on businesses based on the number of employees they have.
Council members were expected to take a final vote on the budget amendments Monday afternoon.
UPDATE: The Department of Neighborhood’s would reorganize itself around the new City Council districts under a budget resolution put forward by Council member Sally Bagshaw. There are currently nine district coordinators assigned to 13 neighborhood districts which now overlay seven council districts. The statement of legislative intent (PDF) doesn’t necessarily require neighborhood districts match council districts, but instructs DON to study its options in a preliminary report due May 1st.
The plan should include proposals for changes or modifications to the Neighborhood District Coordinators program, including proposals for updated job descriptions, protocols for working with district Councilmembers, and improvements to the City’s relationship to the existing District Councils and City Neighborhood Council.
Pre-K plan: Wednesday, the City Council’s education committee will take up legislation from the mayor’s office for implementing Seattle’s new pre-K education plan: The implementation plan provides details about how the preschool program will be rolled out, and how it will work toward meeting its goal of closing the achievement gap for Seattle’s youngest learners.“Included in this implementation plan are the key ingredients to creating a successful program that will make a difference in the lives of young children and their families across our city,” said Murray. “With the plan’s focus on quality, we’re working to ensure that the children participating in the Seattle Preschool Program will be ready for school and have the foundation to succeed in school and life.”
Homeless encampments: The planning and land use committee and chair Mike O’Brien approved the city’s plan to regulate homeless encampments by permitting three camps in Seattle. Kshama Sawant’s amendment seeking to expand the area where the camps will be allowed to include residential neighborhoods was not adopted but an extension of the bill to allow the University of Washington and other schools to potentially host the facilities was approved. The full council will vote on the legislation March 23rd. Continue reading →
Sorry, Travis, aka Travistron aka Traviston aka Traveltron, but you’ll have to move along. CHS delivered the news earlier this week direct to Travis that his and others’ accumulation of camping gear, treasures, and trash will have to clear out from the doorways of the empty Piecora’s building at 14th and Madison after increasing complaints to the city and police about homeless campers at the site.
Our visit with Travis was part reporting, part giving him a head’s up about what we knew of the developer’s plan.
“We are in the permit process now and don’t yet have a demolition date,” a spokesperson for Equity Residential tells CHS. “This weekend we will be cleaning up the property and working to secure the area.”
Equity purchased the building home to the much-loved E Madison pizza joint and other businesses in spring of 2013 for $10.3 million with plans to develop a six-story, 140-unit mixed-use apartment building on the land. To date, there are no demolition permit applications on file for the property nor any early signs of construction paperwork likely putting the project a long time from construction work.
In recent weeks and through December’s bitterly cold nights, the doorways and old patio area of the Piecora’s building had become a refuge for homeless campers. Along with some piles of garbage, the campers have collected blankets and backpacks along with random treasures like a discarded Casio keyboard. The small BBQ grill brought out a fire response in recent weeks and police were called last week to a fight outside the building. We’ve asked the city for details on the complaints filed with DPD and are awaiting the documents.
For Travis, the clean-up will mean finding a new place to camp and keep his possessions. He told CHS aspects of shelter living like curfews aren’t for him and that he was trying to “make something cool” around Piecora’s and doing his best to keep it clean.
UPDATE 1/14/15: Good news for fans of large empty lots — a demolition permit for the property was applied for — and immediately issued — Tuesday. You’ll note the permit is good through July 13th, 2016 so the building won’t necessarily be torn down immediately. In the meantime, the permitting and design review process for the planned development has not yet started. Contractors were busy at the site last weekend cleaning up the area and installing plywood to block the old storefront entrances.
With social services outside Seattle continuing to dwindle and sometimes unexplainable opposition to providing help, here is a little bit of good news for homeless and hungry people in the city. Despite concerns from some neighbors in the area, a Capitol Hill nonprofit is able to move forward with its plan to add another day of hot meal service to its offerings.
Community Lunch on Capitol Hill tells CHS that it can move forward with its plan to add another night of dinner after a Wednesday meeting with neighbors near All Pilgrims where the meals will be hosted.
Community Lunch has been providing hot meals and a social structure — sometimes 200 to 300 diners at a time — in the neighborhood for nearly 30 years. The schedule these days has been Tuesday and Friday lunches at Central Lutheran and a Thursday night dinner at Broadway’s All Pilgrims.
Beginning next week, the organization will now add a Wednesday night dinner at All Pilgrims.
Executive director Don Jensen said the neighborhood discussion gave a few people living near the church an opportunity to air concerns and ask the group to work to address worries about increased numbers of homeless people coming to the area for the dinners.
He also said he was very happy with the tide of support that followed a social media post showing a note distributed in the area about the new night of service. Jensen said that people looking to support Community Lunch can check out the group’s website for ways to give and, especially, volunteer. He said the new Wednesday dinner service is still in need of help.
In 2013, The Seattle Stand Down provided services to nearly 350 veterans in a day of volunteering and outreach at Seattle Central. This year, organizers have expanded the Stand Down to two day event to reach out to even more homeless veterans. The fourth annual Seattle Stand Down takes place on Thursday December 11th and Friday December 12th.
“We are actually growing even more,” said Matthew Perry, one of the organizers of the event.
The annual event now provides services like dental exams, eye exams, medical screenings. There will also be a job fair counseling will be provided on various issues like legal affairs, housing, employment opportunities.
On the first day of the event, veterans will be provided interviewing clothing, help with writing resumes. The second day they will be provided with the opportunity to meet with employers looking to hire. Special attention will also be given to women veterans who organizers say often don’t get fair representation in the homeless counts and face additional problems when trying to access opportunities for housing.
Organizations like the Seattle University Veterans Committee, American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars have joined to make this year’s event possible. The event is also funded by a Veterans Employment and Training Service grant from the U.S. Department of Labor and also by One Mountain Less, a nonprofit organization helping veterans.
“They get the chance to take care of whatever they need that day so it’s been very neat because most of the volunteers are veterans themselves or are connected to a veteran,” Perry said. “The veterans that are coming in from the street, homeless and here are other veterans ready to help them, shake hands and give a hug and help them through the whole thing.
Perry urges CHS readers to consider volunteering to help on the day of the event or getting more information to get involved in 2015. You can learn more at theseattlestanddown.org.